If you’re remarrying after divorce or the death of a spouse, your estate plan may not be top of mind. There are far more pleasant things to think about. However, it’s important to review it at the very least because you’ll likely want to make some changes – particularly if you have children.
If you don’t yet have an estate plan, this is one of those life events that should spur you to get one. For purposes of this post, we’ll assume you have one that’s going to need some revision. Where do you start?
You’ll probably need to make some changes to how you want your assets distributed after your death. That means revising your will and/or any trusts in which you’ve designated inheritances.
If you have children, be sure their inheritances are clearly detailed. Too many people leave everything to their new spouse and rely on them to disburse assets fairly to their stepchildren. This often ends in court fights and estrangement.
If you want your new spouse to inherit a portion of your retirement, investment and other accounts that have beneficiary designations, you’ll need to make those changes directly on the accounts. You can typically do it online. You can note the designations in your estate plan also, but the designation on the account is what prevails if there’s a discrepancy or if they’re not mentioned in the estate plan.
Powers of attorney and estate administrators
Don’t forget to review whom you’ve designated to have power of attorney (POA) over your health care and finances if you become incapacitated as well as whom you’ve appointed as trustees and secondary trustees over any trusts and to be your estate administrator. You may want your new spouse to have some or all of these roles, but you may prefer to name your adult children, a sibling or someone outside the family.
The good news if you forgot to take your former spouse off of anything in your estate plan is that Texas state law has your back. Under the Texas Estate Codes, for purposes of an estate, an ex-spouse is treated as though they predeceased you – whether it involves an inheritance or a fiduciary appointment.
Everyone’s situation is unique. That’s why you need experienced legal guidance to help ensure that you’re looking out for your family as you start this new chapter.